Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ryan Watches A Motion Picture #57: LOL (2006)

Technology, what have you done to me?

I decided to check this out after a friend recommended it to me for its music. LOL is part of an indie film movement lovingly called Mumblecore, which is characterised by being indie and ultra-low budge with a reliance on lower end digital cameras, improvised scripts, and centered on young twenty-somethings dealing with each other in alienation-infused matters of love and friendship. It's pretty much hipster filmmaking, which would normally really irritate me, but I suspect that its internet-junkie sensibility spoke to me.

LOL didn't irritate me much as I had expected. I actually thought it was pretty brilliant, if a little boring. The characters are all engaged in relationships governed and disrupted by an insistence on technology, and as such, this flick makes for good essay fodder. Someone is always using a cellphone or a computer in the film and trying to communicate or mediate their lives. They come to mediate our own experience of the characters lives as well, like where the photographs taken by someone's cellphone flash across the screen, once that cellphone has been introduced into a scene. The images on the phone might contradict something someone's said and proven them to be a liar. Or it might reflect on their personality of desires.

Now, the style, with disconnected and improvised scenes and dialogue, does a lot to draw you in but sometimes too little to keep you there. I occasionally found myself waiting for something to happen, and I was saved often by the film's music segments. LOL's crux is probably in the music, actually, where musician/actor Kevin Bewersdorf stitches music together using the recorded footage of people making random noises with their mouths. An emotive language pieced together through electronics, where completely separate people are brought together to make a song and yet remain separate and isolated in their own lives. Odin's beard! I bet it's a metaphor!

I particularly liked it when a song composed using two lovers appear on screen shortly after they've ostensibly broken up, thanks to the sexual politics they come across because of their long distance, cellphone-mediated relationship. There's also this clever scene where someone named Tim is having a text chat online with a dude named Mike sitting on the same couch he's sitting on, talking about his problematic relationship while Tim's girlfriend watches TV. Their text dialogue flashes on the screen as the TV blares out a conversation between a guy named Mike and his girlfriend, where the girlfriend confronts TV Mike for failing the relationship. It takes a few seconds to sort it out. Media wrapped on media wrapped on media.

So: Good for an essay. Maybe not good for a casual evening.

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